In its 76-page annual plan published on Wednesday, the BBC revealed: “We are exploring potential commercial opportunities for BBC Four to become a new global subscription service that takes our strengths in specialist factual to the world stage.”
The British broadcaster offered no further detail, but it’s clear that it believes there could be value in adding the network to BBC Studios’ existing portfolio of international channels, including BBC Earth and BBC Brit. BBC Four is known for its experiments in slow TV and high-end history documentaries, such as Lucy Worsley’s Royal Photo Album.
The plans also help explain the surprise sideways move of Cassian Harrison, who this month vacated his role as BBC Four channel editor to take on an attachment at BBC Studios as senior vice president of commissioning and content global services. Harrison may well play a role in shaping a global BBC Four.
But while BBC Four may be set for the world stage, it will become a diminished proposition in the UK. In the annual plan, the BBC said the “best of” BBC Four’s originals will move to BBC Two, and the channel will refocus on showcasing the broadcaster’s “rich archive.” In other words, the channel will be stocked with more repeats — confirming what sources told Deadline last week.
The BBC has, however, denied rumors that BBC Four will be closed. Many have suggested it could be swapped with online youth network BBC Three, which the BBC said today could be restored to television. “There are no plans to close BBC Four,” a spokeswoman said.
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